Wednesday, 18 February 2009 - Ameer abu ibn Ameer
. Once upon a time, in a land far away, I was a Hindu.
Among the bonuses of being a revert to Islam (inshaAllah going to Heaven is a bit handy) is the conversation starter. Even the least practicing Muslims seem to smile when someone takes their shahada.
I had always considered myself to be a fairly religious Hindu. Many of my ancestors were Hindu priests, I was a strict vegetarian, never drank alcohol, was known to pray and sit up with my mum until the early hours of the morning discussing my favourite chapter of the Gita. I was not looking for another religion.
For a few months, and by some accounts for many years, a story had been developing in France. The wearing of "religious symbols" was being banned in French schools, with the primary focus being the Muslim hijab. It wasn't until February 2004 that I first took notice of it while walking through University. Some students had organised an event discussing the ramifications of the ban, and I decided to attend.
The audience were a mixture of Muslims, non-Muslims, and some students from France, all unified on wanting to learn more about the political situation. We all listened to the young speaker eloquently describe the Islamic position. I had already assumed that Muslims would want the ban stopped, but I had never heard anyone describe it in quite this way: so far, on TV and newspapers, Muslims had always been describing it as their choice to wear the hijab. It was their right to choose, and they freely chose. However, we were now being told by this speaker that it was in fact not their choice. Indeed, he said, Islam makes it an obligation for Muslim women to wear the hijab. He then stated that ideas like freedom of choice were un-Islamic.
I was shocked!
I had heard people argue from various points of view - Conservative, Labour, Democrat, Republican, Socialist - but never had I heard anyone claim that they didn't believe in freedom.
Time was up... the lecture room had to be cleared for the next session. I could not believe what I had heard. Surely he was mistaken. What sane person doesn't believe in liberty? As I left I spoke to the speaker and he arranged for me to meet with his colleague the next week. Little did I know that I was going to meet someone who would literally change my life
I arrived in the canteen the next week, a little lost, not really remembering what the person I was going to meet looked like. I took a chance and walked over to a group of guys, a few of whom had beards. They were very friendly and it wasn't long before I had spoken to just about everyone, but still hadn't heard an answer to my question about freedom. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later that I happened to bump into one of the people I had met in the cANTEEN.
I went along with some of the people from my class to the Student Union to watch the match. The room was clearly divided into two groups, with flags flying and people cheering or jeering as the match progressed. I was just about to walk in and try to find a seat when I saw the brother from the canteen. He asked if I was going in, and I admitted that I really wasn't so interested in the game. So he and I grabbed some food and took a walk, ending up at the nearby park. We sat there on the grass, eating and chatting about the reason that he wasn't watching the match. He said it was because the people watching were bonded by nationalism. Now, ordinarily, I would have argued with him, perhaps even just for the purpose of an argument, but he went on to explain the Islamic point of view, and it was hard to disagree.
We continued to meet after that day and then the day came when I came home and said to my mum:
"Guess what! Someone at Uni just proved to me that God exists." "Proof! Really?", she replied, clearly surprised. "To be honest, I can't remember specifically what he said, but I'm gonna ask him again."
Within a few months.I WAS READY TO DECLARE MY FAITH IN ISLAM He had proved to me that the Creator exists, the same way that you know that you exist, and that the screen in front of you exists. Definite proof. He went on to prove that the Qur'an is the literal word of this creator, and it was a proof like nothing I had ever experienced. It wasn't emotional, it wasn't based on "blind faith", it wasn't even because the Qur'an contained proven predictions or amazing scientific facts. It was definite, proven fact.
What's more, alhamdulillah, I could prove it too!
With a small gathering of brothers, I slowly said the words:
"ash hadu allaa ilaha illallahu wa ash hadu anna Muhammadan 'abduhu wa rasuluh"
followed by a chorus of takbir, hugs and handshakes. As one brother aptly pointed out, these people, who I'd only known for a matter of months, were willing to give their lives up to save mine. I had become a part of the Ummah of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم.
That declaration was only the first step in what I have since realised is a journey towards seeking the pleasure of my Creator, inshaAllah. It has affected the way that I make every decision, and has immeasurably changed my life and my akhirah for the better inshaAllah.